This is a scheduled post, intended to go live while I’m voting. Today is election day, and I’m happy that I’m home to do something about it. I’ll be voting NDP, not because I agree with what the party stands for, but because I agree with what the local MP (Member of Parliament) promises to work on: fixing telecommunications in Canada, and making sure the 5 million Canadians who don’t have family doctors get one. These things are critical to me, so I’m voting for those issues — not for the party.
In truth, I don’t know enough about Canadian politics to be passionate one way or another. This site has an interesting (although difficult to read, because of the awful color scheme) primer on Canadian politics, but I can sum up some key points for our American readers who may be curious:
There’s a total of 308 seats in Parliament (roughly equivalent to Congress) and a party needs to have 155 seats to make up a Majority government — meaning they can get legislation through on their own, if at least two other parties don’t agree to stop them. If they get the majority of votes, but don’t reach 155, they’re still in power, but as Minority government. I gather that the party with the second highest number of seats is called the Opposition.
Canada does not have a two party system, although the party in power and the Opposition will obviously have the most sway. The other parties still play a significant role in governing.
Although there is a far right and a far left party, as in the U.S. (the Conservative party is the most right, the N.D.P party is the most left) there is a wide spectrum of view points in between. The Liberal party is a left-leaning center, the Green party is fairly left, but is generally less concerned with conservatism or liberalism then it is about being environmentally responsible. And the Bloc Quebecois thinks Quebec should be its own country, and is mostly pretty crazy (as far as I’m concerned.) And there are many, many more (there’s a Christian Heritage Party, a Libertarian Party, a Marxist-Leninst Party and even a Marijuna Party!)
From what I understand, we don’t vote for a Prime Minister (roughly equivalent to a President) we vote for our Member of Parliament, and the Majority government’s leader becomes Prime Minister. His party’s power is dictated by the number of seats they hold in Parliament. Some parties never get any seats.
Our current Prime Minister is one Stephen Harper, a Conservative, and I gather he’s not terribly well-liked. We were living in the States for almost the entirety of his time as Prime Minister, so I don’t know much about him. I do know that there’s a waiting list a mile long for us to get a family doctor, and that Canada is about 10 years behind the States on telecommunications technology, so I feel its time to swing toward a more progressive government.
While a Canadian Conservative and an American Republican may look similar in regards to their social and fiscal policy, I think that most Canadian Conservatives would be shocked and dismayed to find themselves compared to the G.O.P. — if they really knew what that party stood for.
I know I was.